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Traveling & Education Abroad

Traveling while an international student

Please make sure that your I-20 has a valid signature on PAGE 2 for your re-entry to the United States (U.S.), if you plan to travel outside of the U.S. during the summer break. Pam Jaisingh’s signature or Denice Copher’s is valid for one year (If you had your I-20 signed by either one of us during fall break and you plan to travel outside of the U.S. this spring, you will not need to have it signed again).
 
If you depart from the U.S. and your visa has expired, please make sure you contact the American Embassy for a new visa. 
  • You must renew your visa before returning to the US. However, if your visa has expired while you remain a student at MSU and you do not plan to travel outside of the US, you DO NOT NEED TO WORRY ABOUT YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS
  • You may remain in the U.S. with an expired visa, provided you maintain your enrollment status for international students and follow the regulations governing your F-1 visa.
  • You will need to renew your visa ONLY if and when you leave the U.S. and plan to return.

 

Education Abroad as an international student

For general information on studying abroad, visit the Education Abroad site.

Before Studying Abroad
An F-1 student is permitted to study abroad after the completion of their first term at a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school. If, for any reason, the student plans to study abroad before they have begun their U.S. studies, then their F-1 status will not begin until they have entered the United States to study at an SEVP-certified school.

While Studying Abroad
If a student remains enrolled in a full course of study at your school during their study abroad program, then you may keep their status listed as Active in SEVIS. Remind your students that if they remain outside the United States for more than five months, then they should consult a U.S. embassy or consulate near them to determine if a new visa is needed for their return. Only if a student's current visa is no longer valid, does the student possibly need to apply for and receive a new one.

While the student is technically still in Active status, SEVP cannot ensure that the student will not be questioned about their length of time away due to the five month rule. The student may be questioned about their length of time away at either the U.S. embassy or consulate, or at the U.S. port of entry.

On the other hand, if your student takes a leave of absence from their U.S. studies and will not remain enrolled as an F-1 student, then their study abroad should be reported as a temporary absence in SEVIS. Upon their return to the United States, you will need to request to change their status back to Active in SEVIS.

SEVP recently adjusted the timeframe DSOs have to request this change in SEVIS. Now, DSOs can submit a request to change an F-1 student’s SEVIS record to Active up to 60 days in advance of the student’s return from a temporary absence.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact the SEVP Response Center.
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